Have you ever taken a bite of food and the flavor was so familiar, you were instantly transported back to a magical moment from childhood? Frank Farello loves to create those moments with chemistry.
“One of my favorite things to do is recreate someone else’s past, to reach someone’s soul through food,” Farello said, his spirited New York accent full of wonder and energy. “I love it when someone takes my flavor and puts it in a beverage and says, ‘This is wonderful! How did you do this?’”
Farello started out in the flavor industry 20 years ago, working in quality control with certified flavor chemists. He was intrigued by what they did.
“I was really inspired by how they can take raw materials — chemicals — and turn them into strawberry or bacon,” he said.
Farello underwent seven years of intensive, on-the-job training and became a certified flavor chemist. Today, he’s a senior flavor chemist and the vice president of research and development with eSense, a company he co-founded. His canvas is the palate; his medium is chemicals. And his art is applying his flavor creations to various foods: alcohol, baked goods, beverages, coffee and tea, spice blends, and nutriceuticals.
“Basically I’m smelling and tasting all day. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s bad,” Farello said with a laugh.
Farello wanted to marry his practical experience as a flavor chemist with an academic foundation in food science. He started looking for master’s degree programs.
“When I came across Kansas State University's food science program, I was shocked,” he said. “It was everything I wanted and needed. They had so much to offer.”
Although Farello couldn’t find a graduate program near him in New York, the distance between New York and Kansas was nothing through K-State Global Campus.
“With the Global Campus experience, their attention to detail, it’s like I was there. There was always a forum where people could communicate, ask questions, respond. There was critical thinking among my peers. It was very accessible and that open forum worked very well for me,” he said.
Farello was impressed by the timeliness of the course materials, the variety of courses offered and the networking opportunities with his peers.
“As a flavor chemist, it’s more important than ever to know your finished product,” he said. “K-State’s course structure covered everything from sensory and nutritional analysis to regulatory and good manufacturing practices — from bench top to shelf top. In my industry, everything is moving at light speed. K-State was right on point being ahead of the curve.”
He graduated with a Master of Science in Food Science in 2017 and he’s already seeing benefits. He credits his time at K-State with helping his company navigate its Safe Quality Food and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point certifications. That regulatory exposure “absolutely helped my career,” he said.
“There aren’t many universities offering a taste of what I do for a living,” Farello said. “The fact that K-State offers anyone from across the country to have a window into flavor chemistry is special in itself.”